Angel in Training is the first book in the Lousiangel paranormal fantasy stories. I'm not sure how to classify it, other than as just "paranormal." It's not paranormal romance, which is where the paranormal genre tends to go. It involves angels who roam the streets of New Orleans, delivering messages (mostly) or protecting charges (in a few cases) and converting "potentials" into angels (sometimes). Our main character here is actually named Angelina, aka (you guessed it) Angel. This is the subject of some joking in the book, but honestly it just made me grind my teeth because I hated it. Luckily, the book is written in first person. I'm usually not a huge first-person fan, but in this case it kept me from having to read "Angel the angel" or something every few lines.
Angel is stabbed during a night out with her friends, and when a shadowy figure asks if she'd like eternal life or eternal happiness, she says that she doesn't want to die, without quite reading the fine print. She wakes up six months later as an angel in training, sort of "possessing" her old body, which was never found. She's essentially been missing ever since that night. Now, as an angel in training, she should have enhanced strength and speed, but keeps being told she's too hung up on still being mortal to actually use them. Her new boss is the archangel Michael, and there's another archangel in residence at the convent where she now lives, too: Cupid. Yes, that Cupid. Angel also happens to be the only female non-cherubim (who are apparently like angsty teenagers who do housework, but heavenly) in the place. There's really no good reason given for this. She's also the only angel in training, and the only person who might be on track to some day become an archangel. She is, indeed, a #specialsnowflake.
Now, I know, I'm complaining. But honestly, I think it's warranted. I almost dropped this book because the whole setup was just so hokey. Once the plot actually gets going, it does improve somewhat, but I'm not sure it ever recovered from the eye-rolling at the beginning. Angel has a sassy personality, which is cool but not necessarily atypical for female characters in books like this. And her side job, aside from training, is where I think the strengths of the book are. Her side job? Protecting a detective in training, Joshua, who is investigating a murder that looks strangely like Angel's own. Of course, Joshua doesn't believe Angel is an angel. (Do you see why this got annoying quickly?) In order to win his trust, she decides to help him investigate the murder, which ends up being not one murder, but a string, all of them different on the surface but with an underlying commonality. As Angel and Joshua follow the leads, Joshua continues to hit on Angel, which she both likes, because he's super hot, and doesn't like, because she's not allowed to get involved with anyone, let alone her own charge.
There's also something floating around the background here about different types of supernatural beings derived from angels, like the Fallen and the Nephilim, but that's another thing that's not fully developed, and I don't feel like the good main plot ever reached a really good conclusion again--the tie-up felt a little half-baked. And then there's the Angel/Michael thing... I'm not sure why it was included, because there's no indication that it's actually going to develop into something. Very strange. I'm also struggling with why they use swords and bows in a modern, urban context...even though bows made of wood from trees in the Garden of Eden is a cool concept. And why the heck didn't Angel have a cell phone? This seems like a terrible oversight on everyone's part that was just to contrive the plot.
Overall, I think this book, and this series, have potential. Maybe the future books, once Angel is out of training, will be a little stronger in plot and a little lighter in running on treadmills. I liked Angel as a character, though she had her whiny moments and I do hate her name. Joshua was cool, and I really actually like Michael; I would love to see him play a more prominent role. But I'm not convinced that this book, on its own, was great. With the contrivances and some really awkward sentence structures throughout, I think it could have used another re-think and polish before going out. Still, I have hopes for the future books and haven't written this series, or this author, off.
3 stars out of 5.